Exclusive – Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is emerging as Tottenham’s top choice to replace Jose Mourinho this summer.
Mourinho’s Spurs began the season in fine form, and topped the Premier League table as recently as December 6 after beating north London rivals Arsenal 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
But since then, results have been mixed to say the least. Tottenham now sit eighth in the Premier League, six points off a coveted top four Champions League qualification spot, and they were humiliated on Thursday night by Dinamo Zagreb – crashing out of the Europa League 3-2 on aggregate, despite taking a two-goal lead to Croatia.
The disastrous end to Spurs’ European campaign has understandably upset the club’s supporters, but it’s their performance in the Premier League which has fallen well below the expectations of chairman Daniel Levy.
Qualifying for the 2021/22 edition of the Champions League was a minimum requirement laid out by Levy at the start of the season, but Spurs’ indifferent form under Mourinho has allowed an unenviable gap to open up to the current top four.
A source has told 90min that intermediaries at the club have been reaching out to potential successors since the turn of the year, and it’s likely Mourinho will only last in his job until the summer barring a sudden up-turn in form and fortunes.
Spurs have compiled a long list of potential replacements, and Rodgers is considered the frontrunner to take over.
The 48-year-old only signed a new long-term contract with Leicester in late 2019 – making him one of the highest paid managers in the Premier League on around £10m a year – but has drawn considerable interest from around Europe for his continued good work at King Power Stadium.
Manchester City and Barcelona are known admirers of Rodgers, while Chelsea also showed interest after dispensing with head coach Frank Lampard in January – only to be told that Rodgers, who has taken Leicester into the Premier League’s top four, would not consider a mid-season move.
Leicester are ready to offer Rodgers another pay rise – which could see him earn around £15m a year – in the hope that he’ll stay and lead the club into the Champions League, but their resolve and Rodgers’ loyalty will be extensively tested this summer – particularly as incoming Barcelona president Joan Laporta has the Spanish-speaking Northern Irishman on his list of possible Ronald Koeman replacements.
Spurs know that Rodgers, who is aware of the interest in him, would not come cheaply, either in terms of compensation or pay. But Levy is confident that the club are only two or three key signings away from challenging for top honours – making the job, should it be available, an attractive proposition to any potential boss.
Highly-rated RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann has also been offered to Levy, but there are concerns over the 33-year-old’s experience – something that is also a strike against Rangers’ Scottish Premiership winning boss Steven Gerrard, who is also on Spurs’ shortlist.
Agents close to Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone and former Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri, meanwhile, have intimated interest in the role from their clients, and there are also admirers at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium of both Nuno Espirito Santo and Carlo Ancelotti.